Monday, 21 July 2014

Monday 21st. July 2014

Yesterday dawned with sunshine and blue skies , perfect weather for the Kent Butterfly Conservation visit to High Elms . With a start time of 1030 , by 0900 cloud had rolled in and the sun was gone , but at least it was warm and dry . We set off from the car park , heading straight for Burnt Gorse , where fellow enthusiast Keith had seen good numbers of Silver-washed Fritillaries , when he visited the previous afternoon . Half way there , a stop at a bramble patch produced 3 SWF , 2 White Admiral and a Peacock , at least two of the species that people were coming to see were in the bag and I felt the pressure was eased on me . Burnt Gorse was a good as Keith had said , and plenty of photo opportunities too . The species found kept coming including Dark Green Fritillary , Essex Skipper and Comma . Whilst there , Peter , the chap who showed me the art of finding Small Skipper eggs , worked his magic for the group , much to their delight . Dropping down onto the field edge , he was at it again , finding just hatched Red Admiral caterpillar and eggs on a small stand of stinging nettles . Climbing back into the woods , we soon arrived at the bottom glade , with the hope of finding the White Letter Hairstreak nectaring on the Canadian Golden Rod , and maybe another sighting of the ginandromorph SWF , but they failed to show , even though ex-ranger Terry had seen them on Thursday morning . Climbing back uphill , we arrived at the Orchid Bank and once again searched for WLH without success . Making our way back towards the car park , I took the group through the Larch plantation , probably the best area for seeing White Admiral . Peter suggested we had a look for it's eggs and maybe , even find a caterpillar . The group waited patiently , and once again , Peter worked his magic , finding both egg and caterpillar , much to their amazement , and some got photos of both , even though the light was very poor . By the time we got back to the car park , 18 species had been seen . Happy , most of the group left , but a few stayed on for a look over the road on the Conservation Field , where just Brown Argus was added to the list . 19 out of a possible 25 was not a bad return on a mediocre weather day for butterflies . The species that we dipped were WLH and Purple Hairstreak , Red Admiral , Small Tortoiseshell , Holly Blue and Small Copper .
This afternoon , I went back with my camera to get a few shots of the WA egg and caterpillar . Surprisingly I managed to refind the ones Peter had shown us and also found two further caterpillars , following what Peter had told us . The egg , looking like a sea urchin , layed on the edge of a
Honeysuckle leaf , was hard enough to photograph , but the caterpillar , measuring about 0.75 cm
long and just about 1 mm. wide , posing on the mid-rib of the half eaten leaf , was an absolute nightmare .
And finally , on yet another unsuccessful WHL hunt last Friday in the bottom glade , a calling Common Buzzard caught my attention . Soon it drifted into view being harassed by a Kestrel . I only had the 100mm macro lens , but fired off a few shots .
I didn't see how the confrontation finished , as they drifted behind the surrounding trees . I just wish that I had had a larger lens with me .


Warren Baker said...

Purple Hairstreak and Holly Blue numbers are well down this year on my patch Greenie.

Phil said...

Great account of what sounds like a great visit Greenie.
Even with the wrong lens you still managed some decent shots of the Buzzard and Kestrel.
Had a Purple Hairstreak at New Hythe today. It was a bit tatty but my first here for two years so who cares!